Liberty University

02/22/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 02/22/2020 20:03

Hockey showdown: No. 2 LU sweeps No. 1 Adrian on another last-minute goal

February 22, 2020 : By Ted Allen/Liberty University News Service

2/22/20 UPDATE: Liberty University's ACHA Division I men's hockey team (29-4, ranked second in the nation) continued its flair for the dramatic in Saturday afternoon's rematch with top-ranked Adrian before another sizeable College For A Weekend (CFAW) crowd at the LaHaye Ice Center. The second-ranked Flames overcame a 1-0 deficit at the end of the first period to seize 2-1 and 3-2 leads before senior defenseman Garrett Nelson sent Flames fans into a state of bedlam by netting the game-winner with 43 seconds remaining in regulation.

The improbable sweep put an end to Adrian's (29-2) undefeated season and run of success against Liberty, which hadn't beaten the Bulldogs in nine previous tries. The Flames will conclude regular-season play next Friday and Saturday nights at home against Alabama before traveling to the ESCHL Tournament and ACHA Division II National Championships.

2/21/20 UPDATE: No. 2 Liberty breaks No. 1 Adrian's undefeated streak in Friday night's first game of weekend series at the LaHaye Ice Center. The Flames (28-4) won 2-1 on a power-play goal by Josh Fricks assisted by fellow sophomore forward Arturas Laukaitis, who scored the game's first goal. Liberty outshot the Bulldogs (29-1) by a 46-39 margin, and freshman goalie Hunter Virostek made 38 saves with the help of LU's defense, which killed all four of the Bulldogs' power plays. Read the full story and follow Liberty Flames Hockey on the team's homepage and social media. Saturday's game starts at 2 p.m. and will be webcast live by the Liberty Flames Sports Network (LFSN) and carried on ESPN+.

2/20/20: Flames Hockey fans have anticipated this weekend's showdown between Liberty University's ACHA Division I men's hockey team and Adrian College all season, and with a College For A Weekend (CFAW) crowd on hand, the atmosphere inside the LaHaye Ice Center will be supercharged for the arena's first-ever series between No. 1- and No. 2-ranked teams.

No. 1 Adrian (29-0) at No. 2 Liberty (27-4), Friday (7 p.m.) and Saturday (2 p.m.) at the LaHaye Ice Center. Both games will be webcast live by LFSN and carried on ESPN+.

'It's a great opportunity for us to continue our journey with an exciting matchup here at home,' Flames Head Coach Kirk Handy said. 'We expect a great crowd on Friday night and our guys are going to embrace the opportunity. They are working hard and looking forward to it.'

While Liberty is three-time-defending Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League (ESCHL) regular-season champions, the 2018 ACHA DI National Champion Bulldogs are four-time-defending Great Lakes Collegiate Hockey League (GLCHL) regular-season titlists. The two conferences are comparable in strength, with both featuring four teams ranked in the top 25, including two in the top 10.

'At the end of the day, both teams are going to compete hard and leave it all out on the ice this weekend,' Handy said. 'We want to make sure our guys are ready to go and to compete with a sense of urgency for 60 minutes and that between now and nationals, we are getting better every game.'

Freshman defenseman Dmytro Kobylyanskyi says the Flames are approaching the series against the Bulldogs with confidence.

'I think we have everything in our toolbox to beat any team,' he said. 'We just have to prepare and come ready and believe in each other and whatever God decides, whatever He desires will happen.'

That said, he believes Liberty can control its own destiny by playing fundamentally sound hockey.

'We can't afford any penalties,' he said. 'We can't give them anything. If we start strong and everyone pitches in and does their job and plays their role, ' the Flames will give Adrian good battles.

Beating the Bulldogs - in Friday night's opener and/or Saturday afternoon's rematch - would go a long way toward generating momentum for the postseason.

'Every game is important because going into nationals, we know we can't take any breaks or make any mistakes,' Kobylyanskyi said. 'We're going to have to be all-in and be ready to learn from everything.'

Read more and follow the Flames on the Club Sports website.